Denial? No, we need a paradigm shift

From a mental health blog:

1. Give up the luxury of denial. If you are on social security disability for mental illness and have no intention of getting off of it, stop telling professionals and everyone who will listen that you don’t believe in mental illness. Either you are scamming the federal government or you are lying to yourself.

This statement is somewhat out of context. I’m not worried about involuntary commitment, at least not right now, but I am on disability for a “mental illness” that I question. I’m not so sure it’s as black and white as this writer says, but maybe it is.

The problem lies in the definition of mental illness. Some of us must be on disability even if we don’t consider ourselves mentally ill and the only way to get on disability for mental anguish or for having been poisoned by psych drugs is to let one be labeled. I was labeled a long time ago before I knew about all the politics involved. It was all forced on me and 20 years later I was on very high doses of 6 different medications. I was working most of that time. It is the drugs that forced me out of the workforce. I was at the time slurring my words as a result of all the meds. I was a mess.

Now I still have to be on disability. I have to go along with what I was labeled. There is no proof that mental anguish is an illness, a disease. But I suffer and I can’t work. At this point I have been chemically injured. Am I in denial? I don’t deny that I suffer. I don’t deny that I am depressed and fatigued. I do however question whether it’s an illness. That doesn’t take away from all the complexities I live with that people who identify with the term “illness” live with too. My life has been difficult. I believe there are reasons for my depression. Does that make me a denier of illness? It is the illness paradigm that produces stigma. If we see all of us, the whole human race as subject to trauma, suffering, anguish and depression—which we indeed are—then there would be less stigma, no reason to deny pain and good reason to have assistance when unable to function.

So no, I don’t believe I have an illness. There is no test that can prove I have any kind of chemical imbalance or other physical cause for disease. I suffer, I anguish, I am human. If I need some help right now in order to survive I think I deserve it because we all deserve a roof over our head. I can’t work. I’m cheating no one. What needs to be changed is the paradigm in which we operate in which normal human reactions to life are pathologized.

I’m not saying I’m average or usual in how I have reacted to living. But I also don’t believe I’m abnormal. If it is true that 25% of the population suffer from a “mental illness” at some point that is hardly abnormal.

Paradigm shift. Not denial.

The below video courtesy of Jayme at Rayne’s World:

17 thoughts on “Denial? No, we need a paradigm shift

  1. oops – lots of typos in the last post (number 16) –
    ie, last line – meant to write ‘whoever’, not ‘however’ – very tired today



  2. Grace,

    At the end of your post, you used the words “just being too sensitive” – was not sure if you were referencing what I had written about some people being ‘more senstitive’ than others.

    I didn’t mean to imply that these ‘mental illnesses’ are due to people being ‘too sensitive”. I would never say that.

    My dad worked with a man who was so ‘sensitive’ to a bee sting, that if/when he got stung by a bee, he would have to head to the emergency room – he almost lost his life a couple of times due to this ‘sensitivity”.

    He was also a Green Beret in VietNam – hardly a ‘timid’ soul.
    The point is that people are ‘sensitive’ to various things – some, gluten, others – petrochemicals – and the list goes on.

    How do we possibly do an EEG of the human brain, and find a ‘environmental allergy’? – It seems to me that if there was a true ‘chemical imbalance”, psychiatry would have found it by now – God knows they’ve spent enough money searching for it.

    How do we run a test on a man or woman (blood, urine, or other) to show he/she is sensitive to a bee sting? I’m not sure, but I know that HE/SHE KNOWS how senstitive they are after they first get stung – and so it is with medication.

    The larger point is that I was not saying people are ‘too sensitive’ – there is no such thing. And, I was not reducing the amount of empathy to a small matter of being senstive – rather, the large impact that sensitivities can have on the human experience.

    This may sound like rambling, and forgive me if it does, but I think of the brain as part of the body – one unit – it came from one cell – it is not surprising therefore, that those who have allergies to processed foods, etc also have difficulty with emotional stressors – it would make sense that they go hand in hand – the brain’s chemistry is upset, because the body’s chemistry is upset – and because the brain IS THE BODY – always has been – always will be – one cell – multiplied.

    And, if we look at this in spirutual terms (or ‘phenomenon’ terms, as science likes to call it) – we see plenty of room for mystery – plenty of room. When we look out at the stars in the sky – and increase the length of our glance (for instance, with a Hubble Telescope), we see a universe that is beyond our human comprehension.

    When we look into each cell of our body – magnify it 10 to the power of 12 and beyond, we beging to see what looks very similar to the suns and stars in the universe outside. In other words, there is room for a spiritual view of all of this – room for “chaotic theory” for instance – room to see that science may be far too linear, and that many things are not meant to be understood – we simply don’t know.

    So, the best any of us can do, is to find out for ourselves what works/what doesn’t work, and to support others who search for themselves – using the best research available. At the end of the day, much of it comes down to what it is we believe in – and what we search for. If we believe in a natural approach and we search for health, we are much more likely to find it.

    If we believe in something else (that’s where the search will start) – however, (in my opinion), much of the science in conventional medicine, as it pertains to issues of ‘mental health’ points to a ‘chemical imbalance’ – that is treated in a barbaric way (similar to blood letting of a by-gone era). And, much of the search of groups like the AMA, NAMI, and others is to ‘understand illness’, ‘cope with illness’, and ‘eraticate illness’.

    A much better search (in my opinion) is one that involves the search for health – we find (ultimately) what we search for.

    “Life is not a problem to be solved, but rather a mystery to be experienced” – however wrote this speaks for my philosophy on this entire subject matter.



  3. Gianna,

    There will always be those who believe in ‘medication’ – unfortunately, there is a fall-out with the marketing of these meds for a great number of people – the ‘push’ to use them – the bombardment of television ads, etc.

    The most upsetting part of it all is that the drug companies hide the data – they pay the major medical schools – research depts to conduct the studies – they throw away those that do not produce the intended result – they hide data, falsify reports to the FDA – these ‘clinical trials’ are done for a few weeks – not years, like they should be.

    There may be a ‘benefit’ – slighly higher than placebo – for a few weeks, but the fallout comes months and years later – and this is the part that is hidden, and falsified to the FDA, Congress, etc.

    As long as there is no proof in a a biological (chemical imbalance per say) – and there is NOT. As long as a significant number of people are injured – badly injured from them, and as long as there is nothing more than paid, and falsified documentation of their ‘effectiveness’ and ‘efficacy’, I say they need to be banned – and allowed only to those who are physically addicted to them, and/or working on withdrawing.

    Am I ‘anti-psychiatry’?
    I’m pro-psyche – pro human spirit, and pro-advocacy, and pro-natural, and pro-whatever works – without causing harm to others……and these psych drugs do not fit into the last category.

    I think this website is a ‘must-read’ when it comes to the dangers of psychiatric medication.


  4. Sorry Grace,
    I don’t agree it’s a physical disorder like any other. There are numerous psychological causes like trauma and abuse. This may indeed change chemistry as all moods and mind states have a “chemistry” this is true for people in extreme states and someone who is simply laughing. For the extreme state healing is not to be found in drugs.

    You can mask and you can restrain feelings with drugs but you don’t heal a damn thing.

    I’ve had radical mind states and I don’t mind calling myself sensitive. I trust that I can heal. I don’t want to poison myself anymore. And I do use neurofeedback which is a non-drug method of healing.

    It is the model of biopsychiatry, the medical model that makes us believe we can’t heal. They call these disorders uncurable.

    I know too many people who have had complete recoveries from even severe psychosis to believe that anymore and there is plenty of evidence if you look for it that neuroleptics lead to deterioration. Benzo’s lead to deterioration too.

    Look here

    and here

    and for a critical but not anti-drug stance see:

    There’s a whole lot of good information that might make you think twice there.


  5. you wouldnt be having this argument if someone said you had a chemical imbalance called diabetes, or migraine headaches, or kidney failure, all of which are organic illnesses which can result in different behaviors.

    The stigma is so great on an organic illness which has the word ”mental” imbedded; it is a misnormer. It’s a physical illness that manifests primarily with thought disorders and resulting behaviors.

    Due to this stigma, there are actually ORE people who do not receive any treatment at all vs more that are overmedicated. More who suffer greatly, and sometimes take their own lives.

    Medication is imperfect but it has made many peoples’ lives manageable. Let’s find a new word and drop the mental illness, maybe that will shift this conversation. Your very own depressed, anxious or manic brain will produce chemicals that are drugs in themselves. Why the fight to manage this?

    New technologies are coming (transcranial stimulation for example) that may be better, non drug remedies. In the meantime, let’s get out of the middle ages with this, and be rational and treat it as any other physical challenge.

    If a person has been ill enough, had enough extemes in mood or behavior to result in being on permanent disability, this is not a mnor reaction to lifes ups and downs or just being too sensitive.


  6. Hymes,

    Thanks for taking the time to explain what it is you were making each of us aware of – it’s greatly appreciated – your time and effort in putting this information out there.

    I’m sorry for the knee-jerk reaction – psych drugs tore me up, and I am very concerned for others who face this ‘forced treatment’…

    Please forgive me for not taking the time to understand the context of your message.



  7. Hi all,

    As someone who has kidney failure from psychiatric “treatment” and has experienced forced psychiatry, I would never judge someone for accepting disability for what they have gone through. My post in its entire context was very specific and about the danger in my state of Virginia to anyone who is enrolled in community mental health services, accepting disability on the basis of mental illness alone and has no other health problems and who does not believe he is mentally ill (and I don’t disagree with him) and tells providers that repeatedly. I am concerned that he and others like him are going to be first up on the expanded outpatient commitment train/law that is going to be passed and then he and others like him Will have health problems that he and others don’t have now.

    In fact I would like to see the U.S. enact universal mininum income support as in some other countries so no one has to prove “disability” to have subsistence income and health coverage. It’s not as if anyone is getting rich on disability payments.

    I would prefer if quotes from my posts not be taken out of context, I understand that things can trigger but I try as best I can to explain what I am talking about and to put things in context. Right now in Virginia, preparing folks to protect themselves from the coming expansion of forced treatment of all kinds is and has to be my major priority.


  8. Duane,
    You did nothing inappropriate and the issues we are talking about are real. I too stand by my original post.

    thank you for all you passionate thoughts on the topic.


  9. Gianna,

    I feel bad also – had no idea that it was in this contect – it triggered me as well.

    I don’t think anyone should ever be ‘forced’ into ‘treatment’ – especially, when ‘treatment’ has such a horrible track record, and in many cases is the ’cause’ of long-term suffering.

    I should have read some of the other posts more carefully – and maybe would have seen the context.

    I have such strong passion in these areas. I worked very hard most of my life, and then had a half-dozen major intestinal surgeries – the ‘bipolar’ of my youth came back to haunt me.

    I must admit, there are times when I feel guilty about not working, but when I get down on myself about this, it only makes things worse.

    I honestly believe that most every person (maybe with a few exeptions, but I wouldn’t want to be the one sent with the mission to find them) is doing the best they can with what they have at any given moment in time.

    I also strongly feel that those who suffer from these symtpoms of anxiety, depression, mood swings, etc. have very strong consciences – in fact, I’ve come to understand that many people who are highly senstitive are the ones who suffer – emotionally and physically with these symptoms.

    Ironically, sometimes their own conscience is very senstive – perhaps ‘more senstitive’ than most – this is what I have seen.
    I have a brother-in-law who was diagnosed with ‘schizophrenia’ – he has one of the strongest consciences of any person I have ever met – always wanting to do the right thing – very senstitive about other’s feelings – never wanting to hurt anyone.

    And yet, he works only part-time as a delivery driver, and is on benefits. I think if he had a full-time job (and got off benefits), he would likely end up in a hospital again. He does not take medication – hasn’t for years – is he ‘mentally ill’?

    If being extremely senstive to the world around him – at an emotional level is ‘mental illness’, then I suppose he is. But, how could anyone judge such a wonderful human being.

    My theory is simply this – (and it’s only a ‘best guess’) – there is probably a genetic predisposition involved with much of this – although, apparently not a true genetic component – in other words, nobody knows for sure.

    Individuals who suffer do so because they are ‘passionate’ – the word passion means to ‘suffer’. In my opinion, they are not only extremely sensitive in an emotional sense, but also in a ‘physical’ sense – often, with environmental allergies, histamine problems, thyroid conditions, food/gluten sensitivities, and the list goes on – each person as unique as our fingerprints.

    These same (highly sensitive individuals) are coerced, persuade, (and unfortunately) sometime legally forced into psychiatry – here, they are labeled, given toxic drugs, and often ‘hospitalized’ (which, I consider to be psychological rape) – AFTER this horrific harm has been done, they are then asked ‘why is it you can’t work’?

    I understand that the original post has/had a context, and so I am not going after the author of the original post – my only desire is to see more understanding and compassion from those in the community (especially ‘conventional medicine”).

    Very sensitive people often times seek the only help available, and this ‘help’ is what sends some people into a ‘disability syndrome’.

    I was fortunate to have been able to work with disabled people for a dozen years – had my own rehabilitation counseling business, and even served as a vocational expert witness for a couple of hundred cases with the Office of Hearings and Appeals (SSA) – if I had a dime for every person I met whose spouse left them, whose family abandoned them, and whose insurance company left them in the cold after a worker’s compensation case, I would be one wealthy man.

    I used to see oil field roughnecks five years after a back injury – in 16 foot trailers – alone – their wife left them, and they were flat-out broke. These guys worked harder in one day (while they were able) than many people do in a lifetime – but, suddenly after an L-5/S1 fusion to the lower spine, they were suddenly “faking it” – no evidence (medically) that they were in such pain – the pain must be all in their head….etc.

    The human body and brain works as a single unit – and if there is pain, it is real – it is part of that individual’s life experience – so, it is (in my opinion) with emotional pain – whether anxiety, depression, phobias, OCD, and a host of other things…..

    We don not have a medical system in place that treats the entire person – for those of us willing to research, and study, and learn, and grow – it is a ‘hunt-and-peck’ method – most of this stuff is not paid under medicare. And we are left in a situation where we feel almost all-alone, and there are people in our lives (or, who were once part of our lives) who are quick to judge – the truth is that no person has the moral authority to judge an individual who is suffering – suffering is real – a part of that individual’ life experience – to dismiss it is to dismiss them – and we are not in this position in life.

    My own belief is that most of these ‘mental illnesses’ are symptoms of poor metabolism, nutritional deficiencies, cerebral allergies, and a number of other things.

    I have to stand by my original post – we need to err on the side of the person suffering – especially, if they are doing all they can do/know to do to seek health and recovery.

    I hope the person who wrote the original post will forgive me for any misunderstanding (regarding the context) – I am hardly in a position to ‘judge’ this person – I do feel passionately about what I have to say about those who suffer however – the God of my understanding asks me to be with them in their suffering – to listen, to reach out, to understand, and to offer hope.

    I do not know what else to do.



  10. Hi Duane,
    thanks for your heartfelt contribution.

    I’m feeling a bit bad because the author of that quote actually was talking about a specific situation in regards to protecting oneself from forced treatment. Unfortunately I shouldn’t have used it outside of it’s context.

    The quote triggered me, but it was said in good faith by someone I greatly respect and I’m afraid I made it too easy to make incorrect assumptions about her.

    That being said—the quote triggered me and served as a springboard for what I said and I stand behind what I said. I just think I shouldn’t have taken the quote outside of it’s context.


  11. Denial?

    I believe a person can deny that they are ‘mentally ill”, and admit they are suffering.

    Any combination of anxiety, depression, bipolar, etc – the pain can make it (temporarily) impossible to work.

    As long as a person is making their best effort to study, research, and treat these symptoms to the best of thier ability – with a hope of recovery, I think they are doing the best they can. ‘Work’ can take many forms – helping others is a good way to contribute while recovering – taking care of our own children, our families.

    I don’t know that any of us have a right to judge another about a best effort, and more imporantly beat ourselves up – that we are not ‘healing fast enough”.

    Part of healing is acceptance of our own humanity – our own imperfections – being kind to ourselves throughout it.

    A very imporant aspect of this is the one made about the damage of psychiatric medication – these drugs do great damage to many people, and take years to recover from – there is no ‘denying’ this fact – the ‘truth’ is hidden by the manufacturers of these ‘medications’, and the profits made by psychiatry. Heaven forbid, those who are injured by these DRUGS (and they are drugs, not ‘medicine’) be given adequate time to withdraw and recover from their toxic side effects – heaven forbid…..

    We don’t have the ‘luxury of denial’? – I say none of us has the ‘luxury of judging ourselves’ – we do our best, and reach out to others who suffer – without judgement – this is a lot, and we each need to remind those who suffer that if they are doing these things, they are doing A LOT.

    Only then, can we build the confidence up in those around us who suffer, adn continue to hope that each of us will continue to grow, and to recover, and to become more – to go on to do GREAT THINGS (however small or large).



  12. Yes, you’re absolutely right — it is all of the above and I didn’t mean to dismiss mental anguish and “life disorders” as part of the problem. I’ll check out hymes’ full post.


  13. Sara,
    Yes, iatrogenesis is a real problem. But so is mental anguish that is caused by trauma and life difficulties—this too is disabling and frankly I’m pretty damned confused about just what I’m experiencing right now (a combination of all of the above?) This is a difficult topic and I suggest people go see how hymes was talking about what she was talking about because as I pointed out the paragraph I lifted was out of context. She had a legitimate point to make as well.

    I just kinda ran with the impulse those few sentences prompted in me and it resulted in this post.


  14. Great post. Those who are suffering from psych drug harm are not in denial about mental illness — give me a break. They are facing the harm done to them by someone who told them they were ill when they weren’t and that doesn’t go away overnight. This harm is long lasting and disabling. We are talking iatragenesis here — not mental illness. And benefits are well deserved in these cases.


  15. Gianna, thank you for this. I was upset when i read the referenced post myself. Thank you for expressing the pain I too feel inside. You are my new hero.


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